Cynthia Wisehart on AVIXA

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This month, the biggest industry news is InfoComm’s debut as AVIXA. It’s a large scale reimagining of the association (the trade shows will remain InfoComm. though in my particular imagination I can see how that too could change in time).

First the initials. AV is for AV, IX is for Experience, and A is for Association. It’s the IX of course that matters.

As I thought about this, I realized that as a theme park and museum designer, AV for me was always IX.  I learned everything I could about AV technology because how could I design experiences without understanding what was technically possible? Every system I deployed was in the service of an experience that had been as carefully planned as the signal path. (Best laid plans of course).

 I’d initially assumed that all segments of the AV market worked that way, but of course that’s not true. For many people in AV, it’s not always possible to be close to the true purpose of the system or the experience of the user. In entertainment, AV and experience are so intertwined that they must align from the very beginning in a totally concrete way, every step of the way. You can’t make compelling or connected experiences in a silo. 

 But in many other areas of the industry the AV person is the last to know—if they ever do—about the experience. Sure, we learn about the experience when it doesn't meet expectations or doesn’t work. That experience. But what about the imagined experience? What it should feel like? The whole reason for doing it in the first place? Many times AV professionals must fight to be at that table where those ideas are formed and shared.

 That’s a shame. In my design career, the AV professionals were vital creative collaborators and it is hard to know where the line was between the experience designers and the technical designers, and between the show directors and the installers and programmers. I cannot tell you how many times on site it was the technical person who solved the unanticipated problem in the best way. Because they knew intimately what the experience was supposed to be, and they were technically fluent and creative. Most importantly—they knew stuff about how sound and image can create experience for all kinds of interactions. That’s not the same thing as IT. IT creates access, convenience and connection. But the life that people live on those networks? The experience? That's AV.

 So I believe InfoComm has made a transformative move. If they can help AV professionals get closer to the experiences—if AVIXA can help get our industry a place at the table where the value is conceived and charted, it will be the best thing that can happen. Not just economically but creatively. And dare I say, emotionally. AV tools—audio and video, sound and image—are powerful instruments of human communication and experience. I think we needed to say that out loud.

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